David Reece – Baptized By Fire (El Puerto Records)

Monday, 26th February 2024
Rating: 8.5 / 10

Well-established as a potent voice across multiple acts in the melodic hard rock/ heavy metal spectrum, David Reece also has a healthy solo career that he’s been cranking up as of late. Baptized By Fire is his sixth solo album, and the fourth in seven years – at a time when many artists are putting out albums on a three-to-five-year clip. A transitional record of sorts, David recruited an all-Italian lineup to write and record this material – a testament to his current adopted home in Italy. The outcome is a much more primal offering, leaning into heavier, dynamic directions that prove he’s not content to be a one-trick pony in this style.

The opening strains of “Enemy Is Me” alert the listener to a modern angst musically – crunchier, staccato-laden passages sit next to a steady, heavy groove rhythm component, allowing David to sail in his mid-range to slightly higher range capacity comfortably. It’s evident these musicians possess great knowledge of many subgenres across hard rock and metal – venturing into even Latin / cultural angles during “Payback’s A Bitch” or flamenco acoustic guitar prowess for the final bars of “My Heart Burns”. Bluesy-based riffage in stunted juxtaposition weaves around the seductive phrasing and note choices to make “Wrong Move” an early album highlight, while killer interplay between guitar, bass, and drums in separation as well as unison takes “Acceptance of Denial” into 90s-period King’s X territory. The finale “Tomorrow Doesn’t Matter Today” features a doomy underpinning punctuated with modern licks plus wah-wah break action from guitarist Niccolo Savinelli, unleashing a Michael Schenker meets Zakk Wylde-like fury as the orchestration heightens the drama. The robust production feels much more in your face and less clinically perfect – another nod to the man’s forward-thinking ability to not stay stagnant sound-wise this deep into his career.

Most listeners should enjoy the intertwining of European musicians next to a seasoned singer such as David Reece. Baptized By Fire explores a bit more of the man’s heavier side, still injecting that classic rock, blues, and soulful nuances that are timeless and quintessential to his professional career. This should be interesting to see how the chemistry continues for future records as it’s already magical here.

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